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How to Make a Brand Style Guide–With Examples

Brand style guides help companies to reach an intended audience with campaigns that are not only useful but campaigns that resonate with their target demographics.

When you think of some of today's top brands, such as Starbucks, Disney, and even McDonald's, you can likely instantly recall the company's famous logos and colors. This is effective marketing and branding at its finest.

Establishing a brand for your online business presence is essential, whether you are launching a local shop or attempting to scale an international company. Developing a brand style guide for your own business can immediately lend credibility to your brand, resulting in loyal customers and, ultimately, small business growth. A brand style guide can also help with sticking to marketing goals, messaging, and aesthetics as you build your brand to become even more recognizable worldwide.

What is a brand style guide?

A brand style guide is a singular document that provides an overview of how a brand should be presented and displayed both online and off. Brand style guides include image size specifications of logos, specific hex color codes for branding, and even image file types or image and graphic styles that should be used alongside a brand's logo in any capacity.

Using a brand style guide is extremely useful for creating new marketing campaigns or even developing a working cross-promotional campaign with an established partner. A brand style guide can include details regarding a brand's mission, its voice, as well as the audience the brand is intended to appeal to and target. You can also include how to ensure your brand's voice, messaging, and image remains streamlined at all times whether your logos, colors, or name are used in print or even digitally.

Finding your brand’s identity

Finding and cultivating your brand's identity is not typically an overnight process. However, it is possible once you have a deeper understanding of the mission and purpose of your brand and business itself. When you are brainstorming your brand's identity, ask yourself the following questions to help with finding an identity that is a genuine fit for your business:

  • What is my brand's mission and/or purpose? Define the purpose of your brand. What is your company name and is it relevant to your brand's mission? Did you create your business with the hopes of launching a product that can help to deliver comfort to your customers' lives, or are you interested in giving back to charities with each sale you receive?

  • Who is my audience? What audience are you trying to reach with your brand? What specific demographics do you want to appeal to based on the products, services, or content you intend to provide? The better you understand your audience, the more likely you are to experience success when it comes time to develop a brand style guide and identity for your own business.

  • How will I reach my audience? Are you building a local store, or developing an online presence with the use of your website, a newsletter, and an active social media presence? How are your users most likely to discover your website or business? Is there a better or quicker way to reach them?

  • What aesthetic is right for my brand? Are you building a luxury brand, or a brand that is down-to-earth and more likely to resonate with blue-collar workers? What type of persona are you targeting and what similar brands already exist on the market?

  • What existing brands are similar to mine? Finding the perfect aesthetic for your brand will require some in-depth research into existing markets as well as various brand aesthetics from competitor companies in your industry and niche. You can also find plenty of inspiration by browsing and comparing the logos and brand colors of similar brands in your preferred market.

What should a brand style include?

Creating a brand style guide is a great way to protect the overall aesthetic of your brand as well as its original messaging and imagery. Understanding what should be included in all brand style guides can help you to develop a working outline for your own business.

Logo specifications

Always include logo specifications within any brand style guide you create. Logo specifications will typically include sizes, colors, filetypes, and quality of logos that are acceptable for those interested in promoting or working with your brand.

Partner logo options

If you work with associates or partners for cross-promotional or marketing purposes, your brand style guide should also include partner logo options and choices that are available. Providing a visual guide for new partners can prevent an old or outdated logo of yours from being published and promoted online.

Color choices

Whenever you are creating a brand style guide, it is imperative to include specific color codes (HEX color codes) for both web and print inside the guide itself. Requiring partners and marketing associates to use the same colors as your official logo helps to solidify the branding of your business across the web.

Do’s and don’ts

Including a 'Do's and Don'ts' section in your branding style guide is optional, but it can help to provide clarification with regards to file types, logo styles, as well as specific color requirements you have in place for using and displaying your brand's logo anywhere online.

Brand messaging guidelines

If you prefer, you can also include brand messaging guidelines for standard marketing promotions, premium content, or even for users interested in sharing their own referral link or promotional code. Knowing which voice and tone are best for representing your brand can help advertisers and/or partners with promoting your business.

Sharing brand messaging guidelines within your brand style guide is highly recommended for larger brands and websites with thousands of followers and an expansive user base.

Checklist

A brief checklist towards the bottom of your brand's style guide can also be helpful to those who want to ensure they are following all of the guidelines you have already set forth. Use a simple checklist to review the requirements you have already covered in-depth above in your brand style guide.

Branding contact details

You can also include additional contact details for those who may be confused or require additional clarification when it comes to promoting your brand elsewhere on the web in your brand style guide.

How to make brand guidelines

Once you are ready to make your own brand guide, you can do so by keeping the following tips in mind:

  • Define the purpose and mission of your brand.

  • Consider the audience you are trying to reach and the demographics you intend to target.

  • Establish goals and values for your brand that are important to you, as well as which partnership opportunities you are interested in exploring in the future.

  • Research existing brands that are competitors in your market and industry. Review the branding and styles used for promotion among top-performing competitors in your current niche.

  • Choose a language and voice that is right for your brand based on the tone you prefer and the audience you intend to reach.

  • Select personality traits to represent your brand to help with forming messaging and imagery that best represents your business and the customers you want to attract.

  • Develop buyer personas that are most relevant to your business to help with cultivating marketing campaigns, slogans, and messaging formats that are most likely to resonate with your prospective customers and clients.

Brand style guide examples

If you have never completed a brand style guide previously, you may be unsure of where to begin. However, companies often spend time peeking at other brand style guidelines for inspiration and motivation when it comes to developing their own.

Some of today's largest tech companies have unique brand guidelines that can help you to feel more inspired while you brainstorm a brand style guideline of your own.

Instagram

Instagram has a visually-oriented brand style guideline to follow as it is primarily a platform that thrives due to its photo and video content. Anyone promoting Instagram publicly must do so in a way that does not appear as a partnership or that causes Instagram to appear negatively. Abiding by the Terms of Service Instagram provides is required for all users. Keeping the word Instagram consistent with proper capitalization is also requested and required.

Netflix

The Netflix brand style guide is a bit more simplified and straight to the point. Currently, there are two Netflix guides: Symbol and Logo. The guides include details on how much clear space should be between logos, contrast ratio requirements for logos (based on background colors or patterns), video watermark requirements, and even considerations regarding logo usage on and in public domains.

Spotify

The Spotify brand style guidelines are extremely thorough, yet straight to the point. It offers a quick visual guide regarding the use of its logo, proper color formatting, as well as typography details for partners and advertisers alike. Spotify also includes in-depth information regarding descriptive messaging, key points, as well as premium or promotional messaging requirements. The Spotify brand style guidelines come complete with additional contact information for those who wish to know more about the brand style guidelines of Spotify.

Facebook

Facebook includes one of the largest and most expansive brand guide documents available yet, with a total of 28 pages condensed into a PDF document. The Facebook brand style guide includes everything from brand permissions, logo colors, and brand formatting, to recommended do's and don'ts for both individuals and brands. This is one of the most extensive guides available and is highly recommended for those who are new to brand style guides.

Uber

The Uber brand style guide is also extremely informative, although Uber focuses mostly on the visual aesthetic of how the brand is represented. The Uber brand style guide includes logo specifications, typography direction, and even colors that work well and are accepting the Uber logo and brand itself. While there is a short section on the tone of voice, the Uber brand style guide focuses on visual appeal more than any other branding elements.

Make your brand’s voice consistent

One of the most essential elements involved in streamlining a brand and developing a brand's identity requires brand consistency. Consistency is key to cultivating any long-term brand, regardless of industry. Using the same typography choices, colors, shapes, logos, and messaging consistently will go a long way in terms of solidifying a brand's place in any market, even if the market is already dominated or highly saturated.

Ensuring your brand's identity is consistent across your website, social media, and even your email newsletters are imperative for optimal success. With the use of Mailchimp, optimize all of your email campaigns and streamline them to blend with your current brand style guideline and the imagery and messaging you prefer. To get started, learn more about how Mailchimp can assist you in developing a brand style guide for your own business and brand today.

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